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Rig And Furrow (Roman), Temporary Camp (Roman)

Site Name Lochlands

Classification Rig And Furrow (Roman), Temporary Camp (Roman)

Alternative Name(s) Carmuirs

Canmore ID 46968

Site Number NS88SE 66

NGR NS 8530 8160

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Falkirk
  • Parish Falkirk
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Falkirk
  • Former County Stirlingshire

Archaeology Notes

NS88SE 66 8530 8160.

The Roman temporary camp visible on RCAHMS air photographs lies on level ground against very steep W-facing slopes which fall to the floodplain of the River Carron.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS 25 March 1980.

Another camp shares roughly the same position as the first camp, overlapping its S side; about 185m of the E side and 115m of the S side are known, together with the rounded SE angle. An external clavicula is faintly discernible at the N end of the visible portion of the E side, immediately to the S of its intersection with the Stracathro camp. Attempts to investigate the relationship between the two camps were unfortunately frustrated by the presence of what appeared to be later rubbish-disposal pits, which had severely disturbed the traces of the ditch in this sector.

G S Maxwell and D R Wilson 1987


Publication Account (17 December 2011)

The Roman fort at Camelon lies to the north of the fortlet of Watling Lodge on the Antonine Wall, some 1km from the Wall. Excavations on the fort have shown that it was occupied in the Flavian and Antonine periods. On the plain to the west of the forts lies the largest concentration of temporary camps recorded in Britain, almost all recorded through cropmarks. The location is of key importance on the isthmus and is also close to the Roman road northwards to Stirling and Ardoch. A further large camp lies across the Carron at Househill Dunipace.

The camps can be divided into five areas (the first and third representing the main clusters): Lochlands, the main complex of camps west of the railway to Stirling, now situated largely under an Industrial Estate; Bogton, lying between Wester Carmuirs and Lochlands; Three Bridges/ Carmuirs, the grouping of camps around the merging of the railway lines, west of Camelon fort; Wester Carmuirs, which is usually regarded as one of the construction camps for the Antonine Wall; and the large camp at Househill Dunipace, across the River Carron.

Some of the camps at Lochlands Three Bridges have been interpreted as work and storage depots, possibly relating to a nearby port on the River Carron (Bailey 2000: 476; Tatton-Brown 1980). There have been numerous excavation trenches placed through the various camps at Lochlands, and several plans of the complex have been prepared over the years (for example, RCAHMS 1963: fig 46; Maxfield 1981: fig 1; Maxwell 1991: fig 18.1;Leslie 1995: fig 15; Bailey 2000: illus 1; Jones 2005c: fig 3; Jones 2006: fig 106; RCAHMS St Joseph Collection DC 37270). The area has been partially destroyed by quarrying, with an industrial estate and housing lying over some of the features. These cropmarks demonstrate use and reuse of the promontory, with numerous overlapping camps, some clearly revealing more than one phase of use on excavation.

The complexity of both the cropmark record (with camps recorded since the 1940s) and the multiplicity of excavated evidence gathered piecemeal over more than 50 years render it almost impossible to be certain of the number of camps on the isthmus, and interpretations differ on the number of camps represented at the main Lochlands site. An interpretation of each camp on the basis of air photographs and known excavated evidence is presented here.

Camp I is the northernmost of the group, lying on a bend in the River Carron, and was first recorded in 1957 by St Joseph from the air (Maxwell and Wilson 1987: 29). Part of the camp has been destroyed by quarrying, and a further part lies under the Lochlands Industrial Estate. But enough was photographed from the air prior to quarrying and development to record that it measured 355m from WNW to ESE by at least 200m, enclosing at least 7.1ha (17.6 acres), possibly some 9.5ha (over 23 acres) if the known entrances on the WNW and ESE sides are central. These two have Stracathro-type gates, and a further oblique traverse has been recorded on the SSW side. Excavations in 1980–1 on the ditch on the ESE side by St Joseph and Maxwell recorded that it was a shallow V-shape, just over 2m wide and 0.5m deep (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: Notebook 8; DC 37273); at the gate on the SSW side it had a stepped profile, some 2.1m wide and 0.9m deep (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: Notebook 8; DC 37274).

Camp II lies immediately to the south of camp I, with which it probably intersects, but the relationship between the two was not determined by St Joseph and Maxwell’s excavations because of the presence of (probably later) rubbish pits. Some 190m of the ESE side towards a gate with an external clavicula has been recorded, together with the rounded southern corner angle and over 115m of the SSW side. The west portion of the camp may have been eroded by the River Carron, but if the ditch continues its course to the Carron, the camp could measure at least 145m in width. If the gate in the ESE side is in the centre of that side, the transverse measurement could be as much as 380m, and the camp would enclose at least 5.5ha (13.6 acres). Excavations by St Joseph and Maxwell recorded that the ditch on the ESE side was just under 2m wide and 0.5m deep (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: Notebook 8; DC 37276); at the clavicula its profile stepped down to a small U-shape, which measured some 0.8m in width and 0.4m in depth within a ditch up to 2.3m in width and 0.9m in depth; it had burnt material in its fill (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: Notebook 8; DC 37275). They also recorded that the camp ditch exhibited single-phase use.

Two linear cropmarks lie within this camp, almost parallel to its ESE side. A further linear cropmark (the ditch of camp VI) lies immediately south of this camp and may well enclose the entire promontory on which camps I and II lie. Camp III was the earliest recorded camp of the group (in 1949 by St Joseph from the air (1951a: 62)), but the majority of this camp now lies under the Industrial Estate. It measures 473m from north-east to south-west by 310m transversely, enclosing 14.6ha (36 acres). It has been subjected to repeated excavations since the 1950s, when probing by Feachem failed to locate the north corner (1958: 336–7). But he was almost certainly probing in the incorrect place owing to an inaccurate plan caused by confusion of the cropmarks for camps III and IV (Feachem 1958: fig 7; RCAHMS 1963: fig 46‘C’). However, his probing did give more information about the location of the south-east side (Feachem 1958: 337; RCAHMS 1963: 111). In the 1960s, Thomson also reported that his attempts to locate the north-west angle (presumably the same north angle as Feachem) were unsuccessful. He stated that enough of the north and west sides could be seen of the camp, but produced no overall plan, quoting the incorrect plans from RCAHMS 1963 and Feachem 1958 (Thomson 1968: 259–60). He also excavated on the south-west side of the camp but failed to locate the ditch here, reporting a few sherds of amphorae and postmedieval pottery (1968: 261). However, excavations in the 1980s by St Joseph and Maxwell recorded that the ditch on the north-west side was V-shaped, 1.5m in width and 1.15m in depth. After silting it was recut with a gentler profile and squared drainage channel (Frere 1983: 287–8). Further trenches in the south part of the north-west side suggested that the ditch was recut twice (Frere 1984: 275). The excavators interpreted these as follows: the first-phase ditch was V-shaped with iron pan and turf in the fill, one layer of turf possibly from the rampart of phase two or three which lay outside it. The second-phase ditch had a narrow square channel in some sections, but was V-shaped in the south section. The third-phase ditch, which was V shaped, was dug on almost the same alignment as the second phase, only 0.45m away (Maxwell and Wilson 1987: 39). In the south section, the outer ditch (phase three) cut through an earlier pit, which may be Roman in date (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: Notebook 8; DC 37279).

Numerous pits are visible in the northern part of the camp, close to its north corner, and at least one was cut by the camp ditch (Frere 1983: 287–8). The pits were full of charred wood, ashes and burnt earth and, although there was no secure Roman dating, the excavators thought that they might be Roman in date (Maxwell and Wilson 1987: 39).

Later excavations in 1998 on the eastern part of the south-east side close to the corner revealed at least two phases of R oman ditch, with the possibility of an earlier ditch which may also be Roman. This early ditch had a flat base and was 0.95m in width and appeared to have silted up naturally. The next phase of ditch was V-shaped with an ankle breaker in places, and was up to 1.5m in width and 0.9m in depth. It had also silted up naturally. The third phase was V-shaped with a flat base, measuring up to 1.9m in width and 0.9m in depth. Again, this had silted up naturally. A field oven was recorded just inside the interior, with a surface fill of burnt clay, charcoal and ash (Glendinning 1998b and c). More recently, excavations by Bailey on a short stretch of the north-west side recorded two parallel V-shaped ditches and field ovens (Bailey 2007; EAFS 2009).

The intricacy of the ditches uncovered goes some way to explaining the complexity of the cropmark record, particularly in the southern part of the camp, which probably had a relationship with camps IV, V and possibly VI (assuming that IV and V are camps and not annexes of some sort). In the instances where a second ditch was dug through the existing ditch, the excavators have reported that there was considerable silting before the second ditch was dug. However, Bailey’s excavations on the parallel ditches led him to suggest that they were contemporary with one another (2007).

Camp IV protrudes from the western corner of camp III , and part of the north-west side at the entrance and titulus was excavated by Thomson, who thought that he was excavating camp III (1968). The intersection between camps III and IV has not been excavated, and therefore it is not possible to assess their relative chronology. The majority of the camp now lies under the industrial estate, but it measures 166m from north-east to south-west; an entrance gap with titulus lies in the centre of the northwest side. Its transverse dimension is assumed to be about 142m, if one of the linear cropmarks within camp III represents the south-east side of this camp; other lines presumably represent other occupations of the site (such as camp V). This would result in a camp enclosing some 2.4ha (6 acres).

The excavations by Thomson in 1965–6 (on camp IV) recorded that the camp ditch was V-shaped, measuring some 3m in width and 0.6m in depth. The titulus was about 12.5m in length and situated some 7.6m from the entrance; its ditch was V-shaped, measuring 2m in width and 0.5m in depth. On the south side of the entrance gap, the camp ditch turned inwards at right angles to the camp and was V-shaped although less regular (here numbered camp V, and visible on the air photographs). This ditch is crossed by another ditch, some 18m from the entrance, also V-shaped and measuring about 1.4m in width and 0.5m in depth. This ditch is not visible on the air photographs of the area and its course is unknown (Thomson 1968). Maxwell and St Joseph also excavated trenches on the south-west and (probable) south-east sides of this camp; all the trenches appear to have been single phase (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: DC 37272, DC 37277). The ditch measured up to 2.15m in depth (Frere 1984: 275). They also recovered an as of Vespasian in the upper filling of the ditch (Frere 1984: 275). In 2004, further excavations took place, probably on this camp, recording that the ditch was U-shaped, some 2.4m in width and up to 0.7m in depth. Finds from this excavation recorded amphorae, mortaria, and metal artefacts including nails, bar fragments and a conical ferrule used for the protection of spear butts. The pottery was given a broad Flavian date (Engl forthcoming). No recutting of this ditch was observed in either excavation, and micromorphological examination suggested that the ditch was deliberately and rapidly back-filled (Engl forthcoming). Two probable ovens were also recorded, one of which cut the ditch, both of which produced radiocarbon dates from the 1st century ad (Engl forthcoming).

Thomson’s excavations on the ditch of the titulus recorded the presence of a denarius of Hadrian, but, as noted by Thomson, its presence in the upper filling reduces its validity (Thomson 1968: 262).

Excavations in 2002 by Bailey in the vicinity of camps III and IV recorded three ditch sections and a field oven (Hunter 2003: 302).

A linear cropmark some 30m inside the north-west side of camp IV (therefore between III and IV) was recorded as 1.6m wide and 0.8m deep; it also demonstrated evidence for deliberate filling with rampart material (RCAHMS St Joseph Collection: DC 37277; Frere 1984: 275). This suggests that it was earlier than camps IV and V, and it may relate to camp VI, or another camp (as yet unidentified).

Camp V appears to be a reduction of camp IV, but the location of the south-east side of both camps is unclear. If they shared the same south-east side, then the camp probably measured about 142m from northwest to south-east by 82m, enclosing 1.2ha (3 acres), but the ditch showed no sign of recutting, so they may not have shared this side, unless the timescale between the two was very short. Thomson’s excavations recorded the ‘inturn’ from camp IV, which presumably represents the north-east side of camp V. The ditch was V-shaped but inconsistent, and flat-bottomed at one point (1968: 262). But his excavations did not demonstrate a clear separation between the north-west side of camp IV and the ‘inturn’ (which is presumed to represent camp V) so the evidence defining this camp is not conclusive.

Immediately south of camp II lies a further slight cropmark which continues the line of the south-west side of camp III farther to the north-west. This camp (VI) could enclose the entire promontory on which camps I and II lie (and possibly camp III), although its southeast side could be one of the linear cropmarks visible in camp III. The camp is likely to measure at least 305m, and possibly as much as 640m, on its south-west side by possibly 470m, suggesting a camp which could be as large as 25.4ha (63 acres). Excavations in 1988 by Maxwell and St Joseph on the slight cropmark on its south-west side recorded a sharp V shaped ditch of a single phase, some 1m in width and 0.5m in depth (Frere 1989: 271). It was demonstrated to be earlier than camps III and IV (and therefore probably V), and Maxwell has suggested that it may also be earlier than I and II owing to its location (Frere 1989: 271). The excavated ditch lying 30m within camp IV (above) may relate to this camp. A series of pits are visible almost in a line some 30m south of the south-west side of this camp. Excavation revealed one to be 1m by 1.5m in width and 0.75m in depth with vertical sides and a fill of sand and gravel and carbon flecks, similar to the pits excavated in Lochlands III . These may indicate the presence of a larger camp on the plateau (Frere 1989: 271), although pits need not necessarily be located within the camp perimeter (see Inchtuthil and Drumlanrig II).

South of the complex of camps at the industrial estate, and bisected by the small Lochlands Loan road, lies the camp of Bogton, recorded in 1975 by St Joseph from the air (1977: 135; Maxwell and Wilson 1987: 39). It measures 194m from NNE to SSW by 106m and enclosed just over 2ha (5 acres). No excavations have been conducted on this camp.

The general lack of excavation on the intersections of the cropmarks at Lochlands, (despite the attempt on camps I and II ), means that it is difficult to assign any meaningful chronology to the group. However, camp VI was earlier than camps III, IV and V, and camp V is almost certainly later than camp IV. The ditch of camp III was recut on at least one occasion, and this camp appears to have been deliberately sited to avoid camps I and II. From the recutting of the ditch of camp III , it is not possible to determine if it was deliberately filled for camp IV, but it is likely that at least the final phase of use of camp III was later than camp IV. Maxwell postulated that camp VI could be earlier than camps I and II (Frere 1989: 271), but this was largely owing to its location. It appears to be the only camp that uses the same ground as camps I and II, and as both demonstrated evidence for deliberate in-filling, this might suggest that camp VI was later than camps I and II. Thus it appears that camps I and II may have been the earliest on the Lochlands site with the area immediately to the east representing the main occupation site that was used and reused on several occasions.

R H Jones.


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